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Top skills for accounting and finance professionals in 2018


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What are the top skills needed by CPAs, Finance and Accounting Professionals in an age of artificial intelligence, Big Data and exponential change?

We have been researching these skills with the leading experts and best-selling authors in the world including the Institute for the Future, World Economic Forum, CPA Horizons 2025, The Second Machine Age, and the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Then we gathered empirical evidence from thousands of CPAs, finance and accounting professionals across the world in interactive surveys and our work with leading talent and learning professionals to synthesize these skills into the top eight competencies for the future. They are as follows:
1. Communications
2. Leadership
3. Anticipating and serving evolving needs
3. Strategic and critical thinking / Synthesizing intelligence to insight
4. Communication
5. Integration and collaboration
6. Tech-savvy and data analytics
7. Functional and domain expertise

This research led us to the work of global futurist and best-selling author Daniel Burrus whose work with the top global companies in the world reinforced our research and clarified how this anticipation competency can be learned and applied in accounting and finance.

The results are that we believe the most important or fundamental competency is anticipation (anticipating and serving evolving needs). This competency positions the accounting and finance the professional to be future ready or aware, predictive and adaptive of emerging trends and issues. This led to the development of the Anticipatory Organization: Accounting and Finance Edition with Daniel Burrus.

Through our work, at the Business Learning Institute ( we have assembled the best thought leaders and instructors to develop courses that can elevate and accelerate the development of a 'future ready' curriculum for CPA firms, corporate finance and accounting teams, nonprofits and government organizations.

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Top skills for accounting and finance professionals in 2018

  1. The Top Skills Needed for Accounting and Finance Professionals in an Age of Machines Tom Hood, CPA, CITP, CGMA CEO Business Learning Institute Maryland Association of CPAs
  2. VUCABorrowed from the US Army War College, VUCA was coined by The Institute for the Future to describe the rapidly changing and complex business environment since the Great Recession of 2008. Volatility Uncertainty Complexity Ambiguity The New Normal
  3. The capacity to be anticipatory (aware, predictive and adaptive) of emerging technology and trends in business, demographics, and the social environment impacting your organization and industry. Source: CPA.COM Insight into the CPA of the Future Study 2015 92% of CPAs Not #FutureReady Our purpose at BLI is to accelerate accounting and finance professionals in being even more future-ready and elevate their role as pro-active future-focused advisors
  4. Top 10 Technology Hard Trends shaping the Profession in 2018 1. Artificial intelligence, machine learning, and cognitive computing in audit and tax 2. Big Data and high-speed data analytics 3. Adaptive and predictive cybersecurity 4. Virtualization and automation of processes and services 5. Mobile apps for business process innovation 6. Blockchains and cryptocurrency 7. Advanced cloud computing 8. Smarter smartphones and tablets drive mobile process automation 9. Virtualization of desktops, storage, applications, and networking 10. Social business applications + 1 RPA – Robotic Process Automation Source: 2018 Top technology Trends – Burrus Research BLI-MACPA Research with over one thousand finance and accounting professionals
  5. Source: Forbes / KPMG Audit 2025 - The Future is Now
  6. In a period of rapid change and increasing complexity, the winners are going to be the people who can LEARN faster than the rate of CHANGE and faster than their COMPETITION. Tom Hood, CPA, CITP, CGMA Our philosophy – what we believe…
  7. Future Ready Competencies in the Age of Machines • Communications • Leadership • Critical Thinking and Problem Solving • Anticipating and Serving Evolving Needs • Synthesizing Intelligence to Insight • Integration & Collaboration • Tech-Savvy & Data Analytics • Functional & Domain Expertise Our Research: Future Ready Competency Matrix © Copyright Business Learning Institute 2017
  8. Future Ready Competencies in the Age of Machines Our Research:
  9. Future Ready Competencies in the Age of the Machines Leadership Anticipating and Serving Evolving Needs Critical Thinking and Problem Solving Communications Technology Savvy & Data Analytics Integration & Collaboration Functional & Domain Expertise Lead & Inspire people Empathy Build relationships Social & emotional intelligence Service orientation Emotional intelligence People management Negotiation Cross Cultural Competency Social Intelligence Globally focused & Cross cultural Team Development Ideation Creativity Innovation Brainstorm (Ideation) creativity / innoavtion Novel & adaptive thinking Complex problem solving Critical thinking Creativity Transdisciplinarity Novel and Adaptive Thinking Future-Facing Synthesizing Intelligence to Insight Large frame pattern recognition (outside their frame) Strategic Guidance vs Tactical Acuity Sensemaking Cognitive flexibility Judgment and Decision Making Design mindset Cognitive Load Management Complex communication New media literacy Computational Thinking Tech Savvy Collaborate Co-ordinating with others Virtual Collaboration Collaborative mindset Finance and Accounting Professional's Competencies Moral and Ethical Reasoning Look, Lead, Love,Learn Critical Thinking Skills: For Financial Professionals Smarter Decision-Making and Problem Solving for Leaders Seven Secrets of Successful Business Communication – Part 1 Analytics and Big Data for Accountants Leading and Collaborating in a VUCA World The Eight Hour MBA: Key Concepts of Leadership Strategy Critical Thinking For Finance Strategic Problem Solving: How to Solve Tough Challenges the Mastermind Way Seven Secrets of Successful Business Communication – Part 2 Blockchain, Big Data and Business Intelligence for Accounting and Finance Value of Collaboration – The Art of Relationship Management MBAexpress: Emotional Intelligence Critical Thinking, Case Studies and Fraud Tapping Into The Problem Solving Power of Your Team Effective Communication and Negotiation (Controller Series) Understanding the Transformational Power of Data and Analytics Look, Lead, Love,Learn The Upside of Stress Creativity & Innovation MBAexpress: Smarter Decision- Making MBAexpress: Communication in the Workplace Keeping Up With Technology 2017 Microsoft OneNote Digital Note- Taking Note-Taking and Collaboration MBAexpress: Nuances of Negotiating The Anticipatory Organization: Accounting and Finance Edition The Eight Hour MBA: Key Concepts of Powerful Communication Effective Communication and Negotiation MacGyvering: The Art of Being Resourceful in a Crisis Communications with Executive Presence for Business Success How the Best Financial Executives Create High Performance Organizations Future Ready Competency Matrix © Copyright Business Learning Institute 2017
  10. Organizational Leader Individual Contributor Manager the Bounce © Copyright Business Learning Institute 2017
  11. BLI Competency & Career Path Learning Communication Leadership Critical Thinking & Problem Solving Anticipating & Serving Evolving Needs Synthesizing Intelligence to Insight Integration & Collaboration Tech-Savvy and Data Analytics Technical, Functional & Domain Expertise Core Values: Integrity – Competence - Lifelong Learning - Objectivity Commitment to Excellence - Relevance in Global Marketplace Purpose: CPAs, making sense of a changing and complex world. Organizational Leader Manager Individual Contributor • Financial accounting and reporting • Cost accounting • Business planning • Management reporting and analysis • Corporate finance and treasury management • Risk management and internal control • Accounting information systems • Tax strategy, planning and compliance • Team building • Coaching and mentoring • Driving performance • Motivating and inspiring • Change management • Adept at influencing, inspiring and motivating others to facilitate change and achieve excellence. • Strategy • Market environment • Process management • Business relations • Project management • Regulatory environment • Macro- economic analysis • Skillful in evaluating facts, challenging assumptions and applying judgment to develop relevant solutions. • Emotional Intelligence • Executive presence • Able to effectively exchange reliable and meaningful information, using appropriate context and interpersonal skills. • Understand and leverage relevant technology in conjunction with core competencies to deliver superior services. • Aware of exponential technologies and ability to anticipate impact on business (cloud, A.I., Big Data, Blockchain0 • #FutureReady – Aware, Predictive and Adaptive of emerging trends and issues that will impact the organization and its clients and customers, internal and external. • Adept in identifying strategic directions and opportunities to meet the evolving needs of those we serve. • Expertise in connecting data, performing analysis and using business acumen to provide astute guidance for better business decision making. • Effective at building strategic alliances and working collaborativel y to provide multidisciplina ry solutions to complex problems. Future Ready Competency Matrix © Copyright Business Learning Institute 2017
  12. • Anticipation • Strategic Thinking • External Awareness • Vision • Continuous Learning • Innovation • Creativity • Problem Solving • Prioritization • Business Acumen • Decisiveness • Influencing/Persuadin g • Emotional Intelligence • Consensus Building • Collaboration • Inspiration • Risk Management • Communication
  13. IBM – MACPA-BLI Partnership Keeping you Future Ready
  14. MBAExpress Key MBA Concepts in hours, not years.
  15. If there is a conversation about the future of the profession, you're bound to hear Hood's name mentioned as one of the people leading the way. Tom Hood, CPA, CITP, CGMA • CPA Practice Adviser Accounting Hall of Fame • Named the Second Most Influential Person in Accounting by Accounting Today Magazine for the past five years • Top 150 Influencer by Linked-In w/ 650,000 followers • Top 25 Influencers in Learning & HR by HR Examiner • Top 25 Public Accounting Thought Leaders by CPA Practice Adviser • Working on Learning Management with AICPA/CPA2Biz, Cloud Curriculum, Performance Management, Leadership & Generations CEO, Maryland Association of CPAs (MACPA) Business Learning Institute (BLI) – Accounting Today